NORMAL — A forced year off from softball has Tri-Valley High School’s Morgan Boward happy to be back on the field.
And a comeback senior season has Boward thrilled to be participating in the Pantagraph All-Star Game on Monday at 6:15 p.m. at Champion Fields.
Pregame ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. for the contest co-sponsored by the Bloomington-Normal Girls Softball Association.
“I missed all of my junior sports season, and I didn’t play summer ball last summer,” Boward said of an ACL tear in her right knee. “I’m able to end my high school career on a high note being able to play in the all-star game.”
Boward has played the last several summers with the BNGSA Angels. Normal West outfielder Mikayla Fairfield and pitcher Bailey Turner are current teammates of Boward on the Angels, while she has played with West catcher Jess Jacobs and El Paso-Gridley’s Ashlyn Stone on past Angels’ teams.
“I had to do therapy for six months,” said Boward, a second baseman who will continue her softball career at Heartland Community College. “I still don’t feel completely myself. It still feels a little bit different. But I’m starting to do the same things I could do before.”
Boward will be recognized as a BNGSA scholarship award winner prior to the game. She and the Area team will be led by Pontiac coach Nicole Hayner, who played in the 2005 all-star game as Nicole Ropp while representing Fieldcrest.
“I think the talent is going to be pretty deep offensively and defensively,” Hayner said. “Pontiac, Olympia, Eureka, Tremont, a lot of those programs have had great success in the last few years.”
Hayner will start her own star hurler, Illinois State recruit Amanda Fox, in the circle.
“The amount of leadership she’s shown the last two years at Pontiac, she will continue to show that leadership throughout the game,” said Hayner.
Other Area pitchers are Fisher’s Sydney Eichelberger, Woodland-Flanagan-Cornell’s Emily Friese and Fieldcrest’s Alivia Tjaden.
Hayner recalls babysitting Tjaden, her twin sister and outfielder Alaina Tjaden as well as Fieldcrest catcher Jacie Sullivan when she was in high school.
The Intercity squad also features an ISU recruit in Normal West infielder Jaxynn Dyson. West coach April Schermann will lead the Intercity and also has Wildcats Fairfield, Turner and Jacobs on the roster.
“One final chapter, one final game. Since it’s going to be the last time, it will mean something more to all of us,” Schermann said. “I’m excited to coach some of my players one last time and also coach some really good softball talent we have in the Intercity.
“I haven’t seen all the Area players so I’m excited to see what kind of softball talent we have in this Area. Overall, I think it’s going to be a great night.”
University High’s Maddie Roop is the Intercity starting pitcher with Turner available in relief. Central Catholic hurlers Bailey Coffman and Harley Schade were selected to play but are unable to attend.
“It’s important for everybody to shine in their own way,” said Hayner. “It’s a neat way to bring everyone together to compete one last time.”
There is no admission charge but spectators are asked to bring two non-perishable food items that will be donated to the Midwest Food Bank.
Players are asked to report by 5 p.m. The Area won last year’s game, 8-7, to knot the all-time series at 12-12-1. All players must appear in the nine-inning game (no re-entry) and the Intercity will be the home team.